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State v. Saavedra (NJ 2015)

Articles Discussing Case:

Confidential Documents Potentially Safer From Employee Misappropriation Says New Jersey's Supreme Court

FordHarrison LLP • July 09, 2015
Executive Summary: On the heels of an appellate decision providing employees a virtual how-to manual to misuse and exploit confidential employer documents and safely provide them to a competitor, New Jersey's Supreme Court reversed course last week by suggesting that employees do not have competing rights to confidential employer documents in commercial or business disputes. State v. Saavedra (June 23, 2015), clarifies when a sweeping multi-part test should be used to determine when an employee may remove and retain confidential employer documents. That test should be limited to where the employee engages in self-help to further her prosecution of an affirmative claim against the employer brought under New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination ("LAD"). This ruling should minimize the impact of Spencer Sav. Bank SLA v. McGrover (App. Div. March 5, 2015), which now arguably misapplied the same multi-part analysis to find a departing employee did not breach his duty of loyalty to his former employer after he absconded with documents asserted to be confidential and proprietary. For a more detailed discussion of this decision, please see our June 25, 2015 Alert, Appellate Decision Teaches New Jersey Employees How To Remove Confidential Documents and Trade Secrets from Employers.

Quinlan Revisited: Employees Who Steal Personnel Records May Not Necessarily Be Fired, But At Least They May Be Prosecuted

Littler Mendelson, P.C. • July 08, 2015
Five years ago, in Quinlan v. Curtiss-Wright Corporation, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that a trusted employee's act of stealing and using her employer's confidential personnel documents in furtherance of her discrimination lawsuit constituted protected activity under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination ("LAD").1 On June 23, 2015, the court revisited this highly controversial decision in State v. Saavedra, stating, to the surprise of many, that Quinlan "did not endorse self-help as an alternative to the legal process in employment discrimination litigation." Instead, the court held that Quinlan did not require the dismissal of the indictment of a Board of Education employee who unlawfully took confidential student documents to support her LAD suit against her employer and she could still be criminally prosecuted for her actions. The court held, however, that Quinlan could be a basis for a justification defense against such prosecution.